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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 67,294

Journal Archives

Iraq’s Displaced People are Selling Body Parts For Food


The flood of internally displaced people into the semi-autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan is not only having an impact in terms of camps and humanitarian aid. It is also helping increase business in one particular sector: human trafficking and illegal organ sales.

Local authorities believe there has been an increase in these kinds of activities. In early June, a report out of the district of Karmayan indicated an increase there – 31 cases of organ trafficking had been reported.

“The increase in the number of displaced people in the Iraqi Kurdish region is the main reason why the amount of human trafficking and trafficking of human organs is increasing,” Tafkah Omar, who heads the legal department of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Human Rights Commission, told NIQASH. “The displaced people here are marginalized and they may be more willing to accept the fact that they could sell their own organs, or their relatives’ organs, in order to cover costs of their basic needs,” she noted, before adding that it was also important to consider all forms of human trafficking, including forced prostitution and child labour.

Omar believes that laws around the subject are not tight enough in Iraqi Kurdistan either. ..............(more)

http://www.juancole.com/2015/07/displaced-people-selling.html




Juan Cole: Is Greece’s “No” on Debt Referendum another Youth Revolution?


By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

During the past 5 years, the old categories of politics– left, right, center or capitalist and socialist– have been challenged by a new one, that of youth. What the Millennials want has begun to matter in addition to the other factors.

That Greece has a left-wing government run by the Syriza Party that urged a “no” vote on the referendum is itself in part of function of the youth vote and of the positions taken by the youth wing of Syriza. Youth voted “no” at even higher rates than the general population. They have faced impossible unemployment rates of 50% because of banks-imposed austerity and they are insisting that some other policy must be possible. They may be right or they may be wrong, but that they are flexing their political muscles and that they have understandable grievances are not in doubt.

A representative of Syriza’s youth wing told the Real News Network:

“SPOURDALAKIS: Well, I would say that both SYRIZA and the youth wing are more radical, at least in their positions, than the government is. For example, the youth wing has opened the issues of human rights, the issues of immigration, the issues of equal rights for the LGBT community, and so on. And these are issues which are not popular in the Greek society. And, therefore, the government’s positions, I would say, are less radical than those of the party or those of the youth. And what we’re trying to do is both (incompr.) pressure and check the government into implementing this kind of policy, but also trying to create a movement which will change the view that the society has on these issues.


.....(snip).....

Many Syriza youth want Greece to follow the path of Iceland, which rejected austerity, defaulted on loans, and nationalized banks. Iceland emerged arguably better off. But Iceland is a small country of 400,000, whereas Greece is a country of 11 million, and it is not clear that the dynamics would be the same there. What is clear is that Greece has rejected the austerity policies of the old in favor of the risk-taking of the young. ................(more)

http://www.juancole.com/2015/07/greeces-referendum-revolution.html




U.S. Quietly Sided With Tax-Avoiding Companies


(Bloomberg) The Obama administration quietly handed a victory to U.S. companies that avoid taxes by claiming a foreign address, suggesting that virtually all of them are still eligible for government contracts.

The Department of Homeland Security last year endorsed a legal memorandum that argued in part that a 2002 law banning such companies from federal contracts was invalid, according to a copy of the memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Although President Barack Obama later began publicly criticizing the tax maneuvers known as inversions, there’s no sign that he has reversed the department’s decision.

The March 2013 memo was submitted to Homeland Security by one of the country’s largest inverted companies, the manufacturer Ingersoll-Rand Plc. The company argued in part that U.S. trade agreements with foreign governments invalidated the law that would prohibit it from winning federal contracts.

In a written response last year, a Homeland Security lawyer cleared Ingersoll-Rand for government work without explaining his reasoning, saying only that “we do not have reason to disagree” with the company’s argument. While it was known that Ingersoll-Rand received a green light, it hadn’t been reported that the government accepted a line of reasoning that called the whole law into question. ..................(more)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-06/u-s-sided-with-tax-avoiding-companies-over-contracting-ban



Getting Beyond Shop-Til-We-Drop


from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:


Getting Beyond Shop-Til-We-Drop
JULY 1, 2015


Inequality has our planet down, the veteran analyst Juliet Schor believes, but not out. She’s seeing more and more of us working for alternatives to mindless consumerism — and the failing economic system that so relentlessly generates it.

Over the past quarter-century, Boston College sociologist Juliet Schor has probably done more than anyone else in the world to bring grand conceptual constructs like income distribution down to the nitty-gritty of daily life.

In her two biggest best-sellers — The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure and The Overspent American: Upscaling, Downshifting and the New Consumer — and in a wide variety of articles and appearances, Schor has vividly exposed how inequality unleashes dynamics that have us consuming ever more and enjoying life ever less.

“Somebody needs to be for quality of life,” as Schor has put it, “not just quantity of stuff.”

And everybody, she’s emphasizing in all her work today, ought to be worrying more about how inequality is endangering our increasingly fragile planet. ..............(more)

- See more at: http://toomuchonline.org/getting-beyond-shop-til-we-drop/#sthash.MZf66ef0.dpuf



Chris Hedges: Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State


from truthdig:


Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State

Posted on Jul 5, 2015
By Chris Hedges


Our national conversation on race and crime is based on a fiction. It is the fiction that the organs of internal security, especially the judiciary and the police, can be adjusted, modernized or professionalized to make possible a post-racial America. We discuss issues of race while ignoring the economic, bureaucratic and political systems of exploitation—all of it legal and built into the ruling apparatus—that are the true engines of racism and white supremacy. No discussion of race is possible without a discussion of capitalism and class. And until that discussion takes place, despite all the proposed reforms to the criminal justice system, the state will continue to murder and imprison poor people of color with impunity.

More training, body cameras, community policing, the hiring of more minorities as police officers, a better probation service and more equitable fines will not blunt the indiscriminate use of lethal force or reduce the mass incarceration that destroys the lives of the poor. Our capitalist system callously discards surplus labor, especially poor people of color, employing lethal force and the largest prison system in the world to keep them under control. This is by design. And until this predatory system of capitalism is destroyed, the poor, especially people of color, will continue to be gunned down by police in the streets, as they have for decades, and disproportionately locked in prison cages.

“The strength of ‘The New Jim Crow’ by Michelle Alexander is that, by equating mass incarceration with Jim Crow, it makes it rhetorically impossible to defend it,” said Naomi Murakawa, author of “The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America,” when we met recently in Princeton, N.J. “But, on the other hand, there is no ‘new’ Jim Crow, there is just capitalist white supremacy in a state of constant self-preservation.”

“We should talk about what we are empowering police to do, not how they are doing it, not whether they are being nice when they carry out arrests,” she said. “Reforms are oriented to making violence appear respectable and courteous. But being arrested once can devastate someone’s life. This is the violence we are not talking about. It does not matter if you are arrested politely. Combating racism is not about combating bad ideas in the head or hateful feelings. This idea is the perfect formula to preserve material distributions in their exact configuration.” ..................(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/corporate_capitalism_is_the_foundation_of_police_20150705




Mass Extinction: It's the End of the World as We Know It


Mass Extinction: It's the End of the World as We Know It

Monday, 06 July 2015 09:35
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Interview




Guy McPherson is a professor emeritus of evolutionary biology, natural resources and ecology at the University of Arizona, and has been a climate change expert for 30 years. He has also become a controversial figure, due to the fact that he does not shy away from talking about the possibility of near-term human extinction.

While McPherson's perspective might sound like the stuff of science fiction, there is historical precedent for his predictions. Fifty-five million years ago, a 5-degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures seems to have occurred in just 13 years, according to a study published in the October 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A report in the August 2013 issue of Science revealed that in the near term, earth's climate will change 10 times faster than during any other moment in the last 65 million years.

Prior to that, the Permian mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago, also known as the "Great Dying," was triggered by a massive lava flow in an area of Siberia that led to an increase in global temperatures of 6 degrees Celsius. That, in turn, caused the melting of frozen methane deposits under the seas. Released into the atmosphere, those gases caused temperatures to skyrocket further. All of this occurred over a period of approximately 80,000 years. The change in climate is thought to be the key to what caused the extinction of most species on the planet. In that extinction episode, it is estimated that 95 percent of all species were wiped out.

Today's current scientific and observable evidence strongly suggests we are in the midst of the same process - only this time it is anthropogenic, and happening exponentially faster than even the Permian mass extinction did. ..............(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31661-mass-extinction-it-s-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it




Robert Scheer: Privacy Is Freedom


from truthdig:


Privacy Is Freedom

Posted on Jul 5, 2015
By Robert Scheer


In an excerpt from his new book, “They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy,” Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer traces the Fourth Amendment’s enshrinement of privacy rights from English common law to Facebook and a defense by Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.


What is the role of privacy in the twenty-first century? To the leaders of Internet commerce, whose basic business model involves exploiting the minutiae of their customers’ lives, the very idea of privacy has been treated as, at best, an anachronism of the pre-digital age. Meanwhile, those desiring to keep their personal data from prying eyes claim it as an unconditional constitutional right.

After making a pro-privacy pretense, in his company’s early years, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg began steadily advancing the argument that privacy is a luxury being willingly tossed aside by customers preferring convenience. “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people,” he said while accepting a Crunchie award in San Francisco in January 2010. “That social norm is just something that has evolved over time. We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.”

Instead of viewing the protection of privacy as a business’s obligation to his customer base, Zuckerberg suggested that the very concept of personal privacy could be gradually disappearing. “our years ago, when Facebook was getting started, most people didn’t want to put up any information about themselves on the Internet,” he told an interviewer at the Web 2.0 Summit in 2008.

Right? So, we got people through this really big hurdle of wanting to put up their full name, or real picture, mobile phone number. . . . I would expect that, you know, next year, people will share twice as much information as they are this year. And then, the year after that, they’ll share twice as much information as they are next year . . . as long as the stream of information is just constantly increasing, and we’re doing our job, and . . . our role, and kind of like pushing that forward, then I think that, you know . . . that’s just been the best strategy for us.


In other words, let’s keep pushing customers to give up a little more privacy every day until they have none left. This has, of course, been the norm in an industry based on customers clicking an “agree” button to approve privacy terms and conditions contracts designed to be unreadable—and to go unread. (As Sun Microsystems chief executive Scott McNealy famously said way back in 1999, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”) ...............(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/privacy_is_freedom_20150705




Chris Hedges: Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State


from truthdig:


Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State

Posted on Jul 5, 2015
By Chris Hedges


Our national conversation on race and crime is based on a fiction. It is the fiction that the organs of internal security, especially the judiciary and the police, can be adjusted, modernized or professionalized to make possible a post-racial America. We discuss issues of race while ignoring the economic, bureaucratic and political systems of exploitation—all of it legal and built into the ruling apparatus—that are the true engines of racism and white supremacy. No discussion of race is possible without a discussion of capitalism and class. And until that discussion takes place, despite all the proposed reforms to the criminal justice system, the state will continue to murder and imprison poor people of color with impunity.

More training, body cameras, community policing, the hiring of more minorities as police officers, a better probation service and more equitable fines will not blunt the indiscriminate use of lethal force or reduce the mass incarceration that destroys the lives of the poor. Our capitalist system callously discards surplus labor, especially poor people of color, employing lethal force and the largest prison system in the world to keep them under control. This is by design. And until this predatory system of capitalism is destroyed, the poor, especially people of color, will continue to be gunned down by police in the streets, as they have for decades, and disproportionately locked in prison cages.

“The strength of ‘The New Jim Crow’ by Michelle Alexander is that, by equating mass incarceration with Jim Crow, it makes it rhetorically impossible to defend it,” said Naomi Murakawa, author of “The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America,” when we met recently in Princeton, N.J. “But, on the other hand, there is no ‘new’ Jim Crow, there is just capitalist white supremacy in a state of constant self-preservation.”

“We should talk about what we are empowering police to do, not how they are doing it, not whether they are being nice when they carry out arrests,” she said. “Reforms are oriented to making violence appear respectable and courteous. But being arrested once can devastate someone’s life. This is the violence we are not talking about. It does not matter if you are arrested politely. Combating racism is not about combating bad ideas in the head or hateful feelings. This idea is the perfect formula to preserve material distributions in their exact configuration.” ..................(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/corporate_capitalism_is_the_foundation_of_police_20150705




Sugar is literally killing us: The stunning fatality rates behind our soda addiction


(Salon) Pop. Soda. However you call it, the beverage can mean big trouble, according to a revised estimate of a 2013 study on the negative impact of sugary drinks.

Worldwide, sugary drinks are responsible for 184,000 deaths each year, with 25,000 of those deaths in America, according to the study published in the journal Circulation. This is larger than the estimate two years ago of 180,000 deaths in the same time frame. Researchers counted deaths from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer that are linked to sweetened soda, fruit drink, sports/energy drink, and iced tea consumption. The researchers found 133,000 annual deaths happen at the hands of type 2 diabetes, 45,000 deaths are due to cardiovascular disease, and 6,450 deaths are linked to cancer.

Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author of the study and dean of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, told Live Science that this means people ought to consume less sugary beverages. Though not all humans have access to healthy foods, lowering one’s sugary drink intake can make a difference.

“Many countries in the world have a significant number of deaths occurring from a single dietary factor, sugar-sweetened beverages,” Dr. Mozaffarian said. “It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet. Some population dietary changes, such as increasing fruits and vegetables, can be challenging due to agriculture, costs, storage, and other complexities. This is not complicated. There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.” ...............(more)

http://www.salon.com/2015/07/05/heres_how_many_deaths_sugary_drinks_cause_each_year_partner/




Shipping Industry Gloomiest Since 2009 in Survey as Glut Endures


The shipping industry is the most pessimistic in six years about its prospects as a fleet surplus persists, according to a survey by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

Two thirds of respondents working in the industry said they were pessimistic about its prospects, the most negative outlook since 2009, the London-based company said in a statement. The biggest contributor to their negative view was excess fleet capacity.

While parts of the maritime industry such as the market for hauling oil are surging this year, others are slumping. Rates for delivering Saudi Arabian crude to Japan, a benchmark route, just had the highest first half of a year since at least 2009. The Baltic Dry Index, measuring coal and iron ore freight, had the worst first six months ever.

“Shipping is a notoriously speculative business,” Harry Theochari, the firm’s global head of transport, who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years, said by phone. “We have this huge overcapacity but a lot of shipowners are still going out and ordering ships.” .......................(more)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-05/shipping-industry-gloomiest-since-2009-in-survey-as-glut-endures




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